Local lawyer says numbers in Navy Hill plan don’t add up

Richmond

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Replacing the Richmond Coliseum with a new arena is a major part of Mayor Levar Stoney’s downtown redevelopment proposal. 8News spoke with a local lawyer Monday who says the numbers don’t add up once you look at the specifics of the Navy Hill plan.

The city’s financial advisers told reporters last week there’s no risk to the project. One lawyer, Justin Griffin, started a website breaking down the proposal and he told 8News, despite what the city’s financial advisers said, there are downsides to the mayor’s proposal.

Griffin dug into how much money really would need to be spent and where.

“It’s basically algebra that I’m doing,” he explained.

Griffin says Stoney’s proposal is based on several best case scenarios. He told 8News that he takes into consideration how each ticket at the arena would be taxed, how many people they think will buy tickets there and at the Blues Armory.

RELATED: Questions arise as Richmond City Council begins review of Navy Hill proposal

Using that equation, each ticket would have to cost $80 on average for the project to pay for itself.

“Would require this new arena to have more average annual non-tenant attendance than Raleigh, Charlotte, Charlottesville and Baltimore combined,” Griffin said.

Stated in the mayor’s plan, a room at the proposed luxury hotel would cost roughly $250 a night. Griffin said the price is much more than other hotels in the area and he questions if people will actually stay there.

“Common sense just shows that these numbers just don’t work,” Griffin told 8News.

RELATED: Richmond councilwoman wants to inspect figures of Navy Hill deal before approval

He also questioned the thousands of temporary and permanent jobs the proposal predicts to create.

“That means somebody could come in for a week,” Griffin said, “bolt in some chairs in the arena and be done and they count that as a job. The projections just already aren’t adding up.”

Some Richmond City Council members are calling a special meeting to talk about giving Richmonders the opportunity to vote on the project. The meeting will be held Tuesday at 4 p.m.

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